When Pain Medication Doesn’t Work

In Pain Management

Pain Medication

Chronic pain sufferers will try almost anything to achieve relief from their pain symptoms. Typically the first line of defense are various pain medications, both over-the-counter and prescribed by a physician.

However, pain medication cannot be guaranteed to always work as prescribed or as intended. Over the years medical research has revealed that not every person absorbs medication the same ways, and that over time our body will change how it reacts to medications.

Pain physicians have a number of ways to combat this issue in patients.

“This is a situation known as tachyphylaxis where more medication is needed to achieve the same effect,” said Dr. Rodolfo Gari, Tampa pain specialist with Florida Pain Relief Group. “Many believe that tachyphylaxis occurs because our bodies increase the number of receptors necessary to achieve pain control and therefore more medication is needed to achieve the same effect.”

Typically a patient does not want to increase their existing medication dosages, but instead find a combination or approach that works best.

“A way to counter this without increasing dosage is to switch the medication to a different class of opioid that works in different receptors,” Dr. Gari said. “For example, switching from hydrocodone to oxycodone or switching from morphine to methadone for a short period of time can restore the original effect. We can then switch back to the original medication with better results at a lower dosage.”

For patients who don’t experience relief from a change in medications may be good candidates for a test called Pharmacogenomics. This test will help a doctor to prescribe medication based on more than symptoms.

“Pharmacogenomics is a field of medicine that matches our unique genetic make up with the medications that work best for us,” Dr. Gari said. “We have all experienced ‘trials’ of different medications until we find one that works. Pharmacogenomics allows us to use the right medication the first time.”

All of our pain doctors in Tampa offer pharmacogenomics testing to their patients. Schedule an appointment at any of our Tampa pain relief centers in East Tampa, North Tampa and Carrollwood.

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